Sunday, February 7, 2010

Plenty of misconceptions to go around.

Under the premise of watching a movie about a cellist, my mom ordered Departures from Netflix and had it shipped our way.
I mean come on, it looks like it would be about a cello player. And with the cello being the string equivalent of the bassoon, my sister Amanda was all geared up about it.

The movie starts. Oh, cool, it's a straight up Japanese movie with subtitles and all. And the main character plays the cello. Cello, cool. Five minutes into the movie the symphony is dissolved. No more cello. Unemployed, the main character then mistakenly accepts a job as a "Nokanshi" or "encoffineer": a funeral professional who prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life. The rest of the movie was about Japanese burial ceremonies. Death. No cello. Just death.

I loved it.

It was surprisingly very moving and poignant, and it completely drew me in. The soundtrack and cinematography didn't hurt anything either. It was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film a few years back. Perhaps my favorite part of the film was that it exposed me to an aspect of Japanese culture that I am almost entire unaware of. Although death is the subject of great ceremony in Japanese culture, it is also a very taboo subject, something that the movie showed very well and interestingly. Celebrating life while showing reverence for death, this movie teetered on profound.

I recommend this movie. Netflix it. And if you find the soundtrack, Amanda's looking for it cheaper than shipping it over from Japan for $90. After all, it is the cello.

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